Thursday, June 08, 2017

Christmas 2016

I've recently realized that holidays are my love language.
But seriously though, they are.
For me, Special Occasions are such a fun and sweet and special way to show my love to those around me.
And Christmas, especially, is filled with just SO much love.
It is my favorite holiday and I'll do anything to ensure that it's packed with as much magic and love as possible.
November 1st is our official kick off to "THE HOLIDAYS" but we try not to put the Christmas tree up until after Thanksgiving. (But the Christmas music starts early-October, for sure)
This year, Garrett bought me THE BEST early Christmas present ever (well...except for the time he bought me a house)....a CHRISTMAS TREE!!!!
BIG Christmas tree!!!!
9 feet to be exact, and we both laughed every time we saw it, because it dominated our living room.
But seriously, when it comes to Christmas...go big, or go home!
You'll see in the video I made that we couldn't even get the whole tree in the camera frame AND we are WAY short on decorations for it....but I don't even care because I love it so much.
So. With the most perfect Christmas Tree as our backdrop, we made this our most special Christmas ever.
It was just the four (and a half) of us since I could't travel so close to my due date, which was a big bummer for awhile, but ended up being just fine.
And since we didn't have any travel plans or extended family to play with, Garrett and I made an extra effort to do and see and make special/out-of-the ordinary things to ensure that the holidays weren't like any other weekend.
And we did exactly that.
Hopefully I'll do a longer post on allllll the little details I want to remember, but for now, this was our
"Service Day", bringing treats to the firefighters, making dozens and dozens AND DOZENS of cookies and delivering them to friends, hot chocolate and egg nog, Christmas lights, decorating the tree (took 2 try's, because grumpy kids), filling Baby Jesus' manger with "service straw", handmade jammas from Mimi, Ariel dolls, stockings with Pop Rock candy, "It's a fooooter (scooter) box!!!!", car/road rugs, magnet tiles, drawing boards, Rae's treasured body books, kid chairs, Princess blankets, Kaela's big belly, Rae asking John, "Do you think it's going to be a helicopter?!" as he opened her gift...and then, "you were right!!!", and SO much quality family time.
My favorite Christmas to date.

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Idaho 2017

A few weeks ago we made our yearly trip to Idaho.
You guys, I really just love it there so much.
I know it's ironic, since my last post was about how much we love Arizona, BUT, the only thing that could get us to leave AZ for good, would be a job offer in Idaho. It'd be pretty impossible for me to ever turn that opportunity down. My heart is just so happy there.

Garrett's little brother Nathan was coming home from his mission, so the whole family made a little reunion out of it.

First of all, I just have to mention that I DROVE there, all by myself. Well, three kids and me. We needed to save Garrett's time off for a couple upcoming trips, so the kids and I went a few days before him.
16 hours in the car with a baby, a toddler, and a preschooler....I was nervous, but it was actually surprisingly easy. I don't know why, but for some reason my kiddos are superstars in the car. We made it to Leah's in 10.5 hours, stayed for a day, and drove 5.5 hours the next day to Idaho.

The whole trip was a dream, and we loved every minute of it!


We were only able to stop in Utah for a little less than 24 hours, but we enjoyed every second of it! Belle and Anderson, the cousin twins met, and LOVED each other, of course. And Beck, Greyson, Rae, Nash, and Rae just had the best time playing together! It was the perfect kick-off to our fun cousin week! We love that Taylor Gang.

I may have had a small panic attach as we waited for Nathan and I began to imagine Johnny leaving for 2 years. Oh my gosh, that is not something I am looking forward to. Seeing Denise and Nathan hug for the first time was the sweetest, saddest, happiest, most tender little reunion. Literally, everyone cried. After hugs all around, a few pictures, and getting released by the stake president, it was almost as if he had never left! It is SO good having him home! And all his little nieces and nephews just can't get enough of him.

Both Ollie and Char had birthdays while we were in Idaho, and being there to celebrate with them was a treat. There was even a piƱata which was pretty much the best ever.

Ollie got a scooter for his birthday, which started a little obsession from all the kids. They literally wanted to scooter 24/7 and that's nearly what they did. Those four little kiddos scootered the heck out of that cul-de-sac, only stopping when the neighbor's brave cat made an appearance. It was the cutest little scooter gang I ever did see.

Tay and Ry had Saturday morning soccer games, so of course we went to cheer them on! It was so fun watching them play and hearing Rae, Johnny, and Madden shout, "Go Tay!" and "Go Ryenn!" from the sides. After the game, we couldn't help but play a little soccer ourselves. Seeing a trail of cousins chasing after "Uncle Garrett" and "Uncle Kyle" made my heart swell and break at the same time. Oh, how I'd love to live a little closer to family. Those sweet little giggles coming from the kids as they tried to steal the ball from the Uncles put a smile on everyones face. I couldn't help but join the fun!

Our cute little town has the coolest outdoor mall nearby, so of course we had to take our whole gang for a little shopping-lunch-play date there. There's a fun park and fountain smack-dab in the middle of it, which made for a perfect little break for all the antsy kids who weren't having much fun shopping. Rae, Johnny, and Charlie pretended to be trolls and ran around fleeing from the "burgens" the whole time. They even divided up the park into "trolls land" and "burgen land." We all laughed watching their imaginations run wild. Every hour the fountains would synchronize with a fun song, which of course prompted a fun little dance party! Afterwards Ollie and I had a moment just walking around with his little cheek resting on my shoulder. Who knows if the kids will remember it for very long, but it was one of my favorite moments of the whole trip.

Anytime we go to Idaho, it's guaranteed that we are going to have awesome food. And we all know that food is my love-language. Denise's awesome cooking + a pantry stocked with all the good stuff + awesome restaurants + Nothing Bundt Cakes (allllll day errrrry day) + grilling with Kyle & Jade.

More on this later, but I had to mention it, because it was for sure a favorite!

Things got a liiiiiiiiittle heated, but game night with the Frame Gang was definitely a highlight of our time there. Code Names + boys against girls made everyone's competitive side come out. Lots of laughs, a swear word or two, and a pinch of cheating....SO hilarious and so fun!

I am 100% certain that these three baby girls were destined to come to Earth together. And truly, my heart could burst with love for each one of them individually. So getting them ALL together for the first killed me in the best possible way. Of course it was a lot of baby babble, spit up, grabbing each others hair bows, and rolling all over each other....but I am certain that they will have the best time growing up together. These three will never be short on love...or best friends. There have never been three luckier girls.


So. I love Idaho. And I love our families there. I can't tell you how many times I thought to myself, "This is what the BEST memories are made of!" When I think of my own childhood, I have scattered memories of swimming and beaching and playing cards and enjoying holiday dinners with my dear cousins. They are a part of some of my most treasured memories. And to see my own children writing their own memories with our sibling's and their kiddos, it brings me the sweetest joy and satisfaction. I hope they remember glimpses of scooter gangs in the street, playing soccer with their uncles in the grass, cousin hugs that ended in doggie piles on the floor, dance parties in front of the fountains at the park, and tidbits of stories and hide-and-seek and puzzles and bedtime tickles. Idaho has a real real real good thing going on, and we love when we get a chance to make a few memories there!

Thursday, May 25, 2017

4 sunshiney years

It is so hard for me to believe that we've already been in Arizona for FOUR years. Four bright, adventurous, sunshiney years.
When G and I were first married, we both had a feeling we'd end up in Arizona someday. We really didn't put much weight into it, but I remember multiple conversations about possibly raising our family here. And then two days before Garrett received his acceptance letter into the BYU masters program, he got a job offer from an amazing office in Phoenix. I remember that he got the call on a Monday, and we needed to give them our answer by Friday. As we talked about it Monday night, we said, "There's NO way we'll take this job, but we might as well pray about it just to be sure." And then slowly, our hearts were changed. On Friday morning we woke up, looked at each other, and said, "We would be stupid not to take this job, huh? We HAVE to do it." So we packed up everything we owned, strapped Rae in her little carseat with her blanket and panda bear in hand, and moved to Arizona. For us, it was absolutely 100% the best decision. 

If we were to move away tomorrow, and leave Arizona forever, four years would seem like such a small amount of time to have lived here. I can imagine, in 20 years, saying to someone, "Oh yeah, we lived in Arizona for a few years right out of college." And it wouldn't seem like much. Like, a blink. Because 4 years really isn't very long. But oh-my-lanta, so many formative things have happened here. This is where G and I learned how to be grown-ups. For real.
This is where Rae and John learned to walk. 
Where I learned to cook (good food, not just "sorry, it's a little ____" food).
Where Johnny was born, 
and Belle too!
I've potty trained 2 kids here.
And painted 29 walls.
I've held 4 church callings and worked with over a hundred youth.
Garrett has served as ward mission assistant, Elders Quorum president, and now bishopric. And we have learned so much from our sweet little ward.
We bought a house and made it ours. 
We've spent countless days scootering and sliding and sprinkling and swimming and splashing in our backyard. And it has become one of my favorite places in the world. 
We've visited museums, butterfly habitats, zoo's, funky restaurants, gorgeous hikes, and stunning lakes. 
We've spent our time and money on cars, landscaping, broken A/C units, furniture, and hospital bills....and that made us feel like such adults. 
We've laughed and grown and cried and struggled. 
We've made some of our happiest memories here, and also some of our toughest.
And gratefully, we've met so many of the most wonderful people. I'm not sure you'll find a group of more genuine, kind, generous, fun, adventurous, hilarious people anywhere else. 

I could go on and on, but I just love Arizona, and I'm so so glad we are here. 

Every May, we go on a little lunch date to celebrate another year in sunshiney Arizona. Yesterday Garrett took us to the funnest little beachy restaurant near his work. He forgot that it was outdoor seating only, and it was nearing 104 outside. 4 years ago, we would have aborted, but yesterday, we proved ourselves as true Arizonains as we shrugged our shoulders and made sure to order an extra lemonade slushy. 

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Let It Go (part 3)

I spent all of 2016 trying my best to LET GO of the things that don't really matter in life, and instead spend my time and energy on the things that are most important. My main goal was to come closer to my best self.
At the beginning of the year I envisioned myself tiptoeing towards my potential, maybe even dancing in small circles, two-steps-forward, one-step-backward style. That's what I had been doing for a while, years even, and I was ready for more. I wanted to leap and jump towards my potential. I wanted to run full speed ahead to find the best version of myself.
If you look at social media, the general consensus was that 2016 was a bummer of a year, but for me, it will always be remembered as one of my most formative years, in the best way. Nearly every morning I woke up and made a mental list of the things I wanted to let go of of that day. My biggest struggles seemed to circle around impatience, self-criticism, and forgiveness. 
I am 100% confident that I was a better version of myself by December of 2016. Noticeably, even. And the pride and confidence that came from working as hard as I could to grow and learn and just BE BETTER felt amazing. Seeing results felt even better.
I have to admit though, I don't know that there were any 'leaps' forward in 2016. Instead, my growth seemed to come in small steps, consistently going forward. Or rather, mostly consistent. My pace of progression was something I could be proud of though, and so baby steps was acceptable to me (it was better than tiptoeing, at least). 

Then 2017 hit. And unbeknownst to me, I was in for quite a leap of growth. Possibly my biggest jump yet. And I don't fully understand why this was so huge for me; but truly, I will never be the same. 

I cursed my 'let it go' mantra many times during my pregnancy...trying to let go of how I wanted pregnancy to be might have been my biggest test of patience and strength to date. My goal was to smile though the pain, to keep my chin up as I hobbled from my handicapped parking spot to the motorized wheel-chair at the font of each store, and to refuse to bring my family down with a bad attitude about how miserable I was. 
And I have to say, I experienced the power of gratitude during this time. My goodness, I'm not sure there are many things more powerful than gratitude. This pregnancy may have been my hardest one yet, physically. But mentally, it was my best. Choosing to smile with the hand I was dealt, instead of complain about the hand I wanted was a major obstacle for me. And I wasn't perfect, but I tried my best and saw results. 
(And I have to say, isn't that something we all experience over and over again....being dealt a different hand than we expected or wanted. For real, it's a tough one for me. But I'm practicing.)

So. With the start of 2017 came the end of my pregnancy. And I was more than ready to hold my baby girl in my arms instead of in my broken hips. I got to the hospital 100% convinced that it would be smooth sailing from here on out. And then Belle was breach. Which we didn't know until the last second. And it was too late to really try anything to flip her. And I have to say, being raced to the O.R. with nurses buzzing around, and doctors calling for 'emergency teams' to come is definitely not the hand I was hoping for. Without re-writing all the details of Belle's birth story, I'll just say that we were scared for her life, and also mine. 
And I wonder if, without a year of practice under my belt, would I have been able to find patience and gratitude and perspective in the moment of chaos? At the risk of sounding braggy, I can't deny that I found strength that I didn't know I was capable of. I found the patience that I had been working for. And I found perspective that truly calmed all the fear and doubt and anxiety that filled my body. 
And Belle's birth turned out to be one of the most beautiful experiences of my life. I can't honestly say that I loved every second of the hand I was dealt, but at the risk of sounding braggy again, I don't think I could have handled it any better. 
And I came away from that experience knowing that I was closer to who I was meant to be. That Heavenly Father prepared me for this pitch. And practicing for a year might have turned the fast-ball into a slow-lob mid-throw. 

And in the most humble tone I can muster, I was/am really really really proud of myself. I knocked it out of the park. And I will never be the same. 
I feel like I've been working to become who I'm meant to be, and Belle's birth gave me a glimpse of what that girl looks like. And now that I've seen a little more of her, I'm more determined than ever to become her. Because she's really really cool. And happy. And strong. And patient. And grateful. And loving. And selfless. And she lives her life whole-hearted. And I will happily work for every tiny step (or big leap) towards becoming that girl. 

One of my fears after having a somewhat life-changing experience, was that it might fade out and become a fond memory. And that my growth would fade as well. 10-steps-forward, 10-steps-back style. Thankfully, that hasn't happened. And I feel consistent growth still happening. One of the biggest things that has facilitated that continual growth is this: I made a list of all the things I wanted to BE, instead of a list of all the things I wanted to DO
I'm a really big list person. And there are so many many things I want to do in this life (including but not limited to: traveling the globe, giving my children unforgettable life-experiences, reading a million books, living in a beautiful home, getting my masters degree, and changing the world). And while I love my list of what I want to do, I saw instantly that my list of who I wanted to BE was 100 times more heart-felt and vulnerable and impactful and emotional for me. My soul has clung to that list. And I've felt my heart pulling towards it every single day. 
-When I'm on my phone and Rae asks me to color with her for the 3rd time that morning, I remember that scrolling insta literally doesn't bring me a single bit closer to being anything on my list. 
-When I wake up in the morning and look in the mirror, I remember that I want to BE confident and happy and self-accepting, and I try to talk nicely to myself.
-When Johnny destroys another toy, I want to remember that I want to BE patient and loving. And that somethings everything is more important than broken toys. 
-When Garrett has yet another church meeting, I hope to remember that I want to be service-oriented, and selfless, and generous, and positive. I try to remember that at the tippy top of my priorities list, second only to my family, is helping people. And I remember that I WANT to serve as much as I can. 
-When so-and-so does this-or-that, and I just want to tell the world, "How dare she?!" I TRY remember that I want to be forgiving and loving and encouraging and empathetic and understanding. Because I need people to be all of those things to me when I do stupid things. 

My list goes on and on, from adventurous to intentional to dependable to informed. And grateful. Always, always grateful. And I've found it to be so much more encouraging than my 'to do' list, which tends to leave me defeated and wanting.

I know this life is hard, but it is also the most beautiful. And if we are willing to put forth the WORK in all things, then the rewards are oh so sweet. 
I feel very confident that one of our greatest purposes on this earth is to become the very best versions of ourselves. And that takes work. Never.Ending.Work. All day long, year after year. 
And truly, it doesn't matter where we start. So don't let anyone or anything make you feel defeated or not good enough to start. BECAUSE it really only matters THAT WE START.

I'm very very very veeeeeerrrrry early on in this process, but I already love every ounce of change and growth I see in myself. 

So here's to the rest of 2017, and continuing to kick some serious booty. And also, not giving one single crap what anyone thinks, because when you know for a fact that you're doing your very very best, you shouldn't feel anything but proud and completely in love with yourself. 

Thursday, May 04, 2017


The other night Garrett and I watched La La Land. I enjoyed it, but I felt like maybe my expectations were a little too high...there was a lot of hype. Regardless, it got me thinking. Ya know, about dreams and stuff. And what the heck we're all doing with our lives.
Anyways, I was laying in bed that night, still thinking about it all, when I rolled over to Garrett's side and asked him, "Babe, what's your dream?"
My intention was to find out if we're on the path to accomplishing it...and also, I wasn't quite sure what it was. I mean, I know his goals and his passions, but it's not like he's always dreamed of opening up his own jazz bar.
I knew he had always wanted to graduate from BYU (check), and be a civil engineer (check). I know he wants to go to Australia (working on that one), and he kinda wants to scuba dive around the world. But like....I wanted to know what his dreeeeeeaaaaaam was.
Now, prepare yourself, because this is cheesy.
And also true.
And also, it spun all my rambunctious thoughts into harmony and the whole world made sense.
(Literally though.)
So I said, "Babe, what's your dream?"
And he paused for maybe 1.5 seconds and said,

And I smiled. And kissed that little cove between his jaw and neck. And rolled back over to go to sleep.
Because, yes.
This is my dream too.
We are doing it.
And I am oh so grateful.

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